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Looking to improve gut health? You aren’t alone. Recent research is proving what many people already know — that what’s going on in the gut affects brain health, immune function, and beyond. 

Read on to find out just how gut health impacts wellness. Plus, get tips for improving your gut health naturally.

What Is Gut Health? 

While there isn’t a universal definition for the word “gut,” most people use the term to reference a specific area of the digestive system (also known as the gastrointestinal tract or GI). Digestion starts in the mouth and continues on down through the intestines, and the body completes a lot of steps along the way. 

The word “gut” most often refers to the large and small intestine, where many vitamins and minerals are absorbed. More broadly, “gut” is sometimes used to include other abdominal organs, such as the stomach, involved in the digestive process. 

Gut health” typically refers to the health status of the intestines. Within the small and large intestine, “good” bacteria help to break down food and keep the microbiome balanced. Much of the work of absorbing nutrients happens in the gut, making it crucial that this part of the body is functioning properly. 

Understanding the Microbiome 

A microbiome is essentially a bacterial environment. It contains a mix of “good” and “bad” bacteria. Too many harmful bacteria is considered unhealthy and can lead to disease.

The microbiome often comes up when talking about the gut because the gut has its own microbiome! On a microscopic level, helpful microbes (those “good bacteria) contribute to maintaining a healthy gut. The microbiome can be affected by everything from eating choices to medications, so it’s important to make informed decisions when it comes to keeping your gut in tip-top shape.

Can Gut Health Impact Wellness in Other Ways? 

Understandably, a lot of important body functions live close to the gut. In fact, some experts affectionately call the gut the “second brain.” This is because key chemicals for nervous and immune system activity exist in close proximity to the gut. 

In other words, gut health is linked to mood, immunity, and other important body functions. Studies looking into the gut-brain axis, or how the gut and brain communicate, suggest that poor gut health may contribute to depression and anxiety. It’s also thought to have an effect on behavior, emotion, and attention. 

In terms of immune health, it’s thought that nearly 75-80% of immune cells exist in the gut. The microbiome helps to stimulate immune function, and also plays an important role in breaking down potential toxins in the body. Basically, immunity and gut health are believed to be closely linked, so it stands to reason that poor gut health can open the body up to all kinds of health threats. 

What are the Benefits of Good Gut Health? 

The benefits of good gut health go far beyond improved mood and better immunity. Recent research suggests that a healthy gut may encourage healthy aging and longevity. 

It may go without saying, but a balanced gut microbiome can also help decrease the amount of digestive discomfort you are experiencing. For example, improved gut health may help get rid of unwanted bloating.

Is It Possible to Improve Gut Health? 

Fortunately, if you don’t feel like you have good gut health right now, it’s never too late to start making improvements! The following tips can help you revitalize your gut naturally, no harsh medications needed. 

3 Ways to Benefit Gut Health Naturally

1. Introduce a Probiotic Into Your Supplement Protocol 

Probiotics are a special type of “good” bacteria found in food and supplements. These bacteria are often produced during fermentation. You may have heard that foods like yogurt or kimchi are good for you, and this is precisely why! 

Research shows that a diet rich in probiotics can help to restore proper microbial balance. In fact, certain strains of probiotics are thought to help with certain health conditions. A dietitian or doctor may be able to help you find which specific probiotics could be a good fit for you. 

2. Eat More Fruits & Vegetables (Including the Peels, When Possible) 

Fruits and vegetables are some of the most nutrient-rich food options. Ultra-processed foods are linked with inflammation and irritation in the gut, while plant-based foods (like fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds) are associated with intestinal improvements. 

When selecting fruits and vegetables, you can improve digestion and gut health by choosing produce designed to be eaten with the peel or outer layer. Foods like apples or zucchinis contain fiber in their skin. Removing this layer will significantly reduce the amount of fiber you’re getting while eating that food. 

Fiber is important to digestion, even though it’s technically a nutrient that can’t be digested by the body. Essentially, fiber takes longer to pass through the body and can keep you feeling full for longer. It also gives “good” gut bacteria something to feast on, and is associated with reducing inflammation and preventing chronic disease. 

3. Practice Proper Sleep Hygiene 

Surprisingly, your body does a lot of digestion and gastrointestinal upkeep at night. If you’re unable to get a full night’s sleep, your gut’s goals may be sidelined. 

Poor sleep can interfere with appetite hormones, which can cause a greater propensity for late-night snacking. If this habit continues over time, it’s possible to develop obesity. In fact, researchers have found that obesity may be related to significant changes in the gut microbiome. 

Basically, a good night’s sleep is associated with having a healthier gut, while poor sleep is thought to thwart beneficial microbial efforts. Focusing on sleep hygiene, such as limiting electronic use before bedtime or using blackout curtains, may ultimately have unexpected (but welcome) benefits for gut health. 

Kratom and Gut Health

Curious about kratom and digestion? Truth be told, there’s not much available research regarding kratom and digestive system health. Scientists are still developing studies to see whether botanicals, like kratom, can alter the microbiome for the better

Similar to other substances, when kratom is abused or used in quantities outside of expert recommendation, cases of digestive discomfort are reported. For example, using kratom without expert direction may cause constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. 

It’s important to be aware of recommended serving sizes, track your kratom use, and monitor your body’s reaction in order to have a positive experience and avoid digestive discomfort. Practicing good gut health may allow you to use kratom more regularly without unwanted side effects, although scientists are still working to prove this theory.

The Bottom Line on Good Gut Health 

Most often, good gut health is a result of many healthy habits working together. Introducing probiotics or more plant-based foods into your diet can help fortify your body against disease (and may even boost your mood). Poor sleep or stress management can also impact your body’s microbiome, making it important to take a holistic approach to gut health.


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Annika Weeks

Annika Weeks ("Anni") is a registered nutrition and dietetic technician (NDTR). With expertise as a health professional and experience as a patient in the healthcare system, she hopes to bridge gaps by creating more credible nutrition, health, and wellness information online.